Percussion pioneer Vic Firth dead at 85 in Boston

Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:04pm EDT
 
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BOSTON (Reuters) - Everett "Vic" Firth, the longtime percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and founder of the drumstick company that bears his name, died in Boston at the age of 85, the company he founded said on Tuesday.

Firth died in his home in Boston on Sunday.

Firth was the son of a professional trumpet player and took up the drums by high school. He joined the BSO in 1952 at the age of 21 while enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Firth went on to become the orchestra's principal timpanist, playing with conductors and musicians including Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir Horowitz and Leopold Stokowski, before retiring from the orchestra in 2002.

"He was the single greatest percussionist anywhere in the world," said former BSO conductor Seiji Ozawa. "Every performance that Vic gave was informed with incredible musicianship, elegance and impeccable timing."

Firth founded his drumstick company in 1963 and was regarded as a pioneer in stick design.

He is survived his wife, Olga, and daughters Tracy Firth and Kelly DeChristopher.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)